1gettyIn 1995, Mark Getty and Jonathan Klein founded Getty Images to bring the fragmented stock photography business into the digital age, becoming the first company to license imagery online. Since then, Getty Images pushes the industry forward with breakthrough licensing models, digital media management tools and a comprehensive offering of creative and editorial imagery, microstock, footage and music.

Last year, Getty Images embraced social by launching The Feed by Getty Images, an innovative use of the Getty Images’ Connect API applied to social media platforms. This powerful, new software integration showcases Getty Images’ broad range of content based on trending topics and conversation for up-to-the-minute news, sport and entertainment imagery.

It seems that the success story of Getty Images is owed to the enterprise being a multi-channel player, taking full advantage of all the digital opportunities and driving development ahead.

Glenn_Parker1As Vice President of Getty Images, Glenn Parker leads and oversees Getty Images’ Asia Pacific team, covering all key agency, corporate and media business segments. He plays an integral role in the continuing growth of Getty Images across the Asia Pacific region, and the evolution of the business into a complete digital media company.Glenn is involved in the emerging digital businesses for many years already, including the start up phase of well known brands like online stockbroker Etrade. In 2001, he felt the photography business was ready to shift to a digital platform, although at this time, digital cameras were still in their infancy. For him it was clear that the industry would quickly evolve to online delivery and he saw the unique proposition. I launched a stock imagery business called photolibrary.com in Australia, which was acquired In 2011 by Getty Images..

We are pleased and honored that Glenn took the time to answer some questions for Asian eMarketing, and what he has to say illustrates the multi-channel approach the company has seemed to have from the start.

Pioneering on the Road of Success

Getty Images is indeed in many ways a pioneer in visual content business. Throughout its seventeen year history, the business has continually questioned and challenged existing business models to ensure that it is always one step ahead and at the forefront of existing and future customers’ needs, Glen explained.

Not only has his company been the first to license imagery online, shifting its business online and launching www.gettyimages.com in 2001, Getty Images sources content in many unique ways, and was the pioneer in tapping into user-generated content from photo enthusiasts and semi- and pro-photographers. This has been an important part of the business’ growth, as the demand for localized and “real life” content continues to grow as this market demands for immediate, relevant, local content is growing at an extraordinary rate.

According to Glenn, the team at Getty Images has been prepared over the years to look closely at their business and seek, not only to change, but to disrupt the way they operate in ways that will ultimately lead to growth. For example, in 2006 Getty Images acquired iStockphoto, aiding the international growth of the pioneering microstock (crowd-sourced content) business. The microstock model has grown immensely, as it services niche markets that still need visual content (be it video or images), but do not have the budgets or the need for exclusivity that traditional stock imagery provides. In addition, the company has been prepared to invest heavily in a global office network that enables them to service directly all of their customers. Throughout Asia, Getty Images has now offices in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Philippines, China, Japan, and soon in Taiwan, as well as plans to expand their existing teams in Asia considerably.

Groundbreaking Digital Rights Management

Visual content, be it video or imagery, is increasingly an important component of any marketing campaign, from social media through to large-scale TVCs, as companies recognize the power of visual content in communicating their messages to customers. In many instances, visual content is such a vital part of a company’s brand marketing that they want surety that this content could not be available to any of its competitors – and that is where the unique proposition of rights managed imagery comes into play.

Getty Images can offer content exclusivity to their customers: Rights-managed images are licensed with restrictions on usage, such as limitations on size, placement, duration of use and geographic distribution.

“I am sure that many marketers have been caught using stock photography with no exclusivity and have found the same image being used by someone else! However, not all customers’ needs require that form of protection, and that is where the royalty free model, with its greater freedom of use comes in. One thing to watch out for here is that the content can be sourced and used by multiple companies and users”, Glenn said.

He believes, however, that the most important advantage of their business model to customers is copyright protection. Because their business is based both on copyright and collaboration, his company works to protect and enhance both sides of their partnerships. “We believe strongly that our relationships with contributors depend upon our ability to protect intellectual property and their livelihood. Our contributing photographers look to us to ensure that they are paid whenever their work is used for a commercial purpose and we track where their work has been used without a license. Our End User License Agreements (EULAs) are readily accessible on our website to increase education and compliance. Subject to the terms of our EULAs, Getty Images provides certain warranties that use of our content will not infringe on any copyright or moral rights of any person or entity”, Glenn stated.

In 2010, Getty Images set up Stockphotorights.com on behalf of the photography industry for support. The website aims to inform and educate the public of the complexities of indemnification and legal image use.

Keeping track of Critical Success Factors

Since the volume of visual content in the world is growing at a phenomenal rate, making it more difficult for marketers to find exactly what they want, Glenn is convinced that the most important facet of his business is to ensure that he can provide what clients want in a quick and easy-to-use fashion. “We have invested heavily in our search techniques on www.gettyimages.com to ensure that customers are given as many tools as possible to filter their search and obtain the fastest, most accurate results”, he said, adding “Some examples include being able to search by age, ethnicity, gender”.

Getting Images has also introduced new technology to make their customers’ lives easier, providing e.g. an option to integrate Getty Images’ core functionality and content directly within a client’s workflow for easy and seamless download through our API. “We call this software Connect”, Glenn explained.

It seems that Getty Images is well aware of the fact that at the end of the day, the most important factors for success are providing relevant content and the right tools to enable clients to find what they need easily, as well as the ability for customers to access and easily download our content. “It is all about making the lives of our users as easy as possible, given the sheer volume of content out there”, Glenn concluded.

Ēclat assured

To no surprise the business has grown considerably, from about 50,000 customers at the beginning of the 21st century to over 1 million now. The company’s customer base continues to grow, particularly as Getty Images goes on to provide a wide variety of visual content to as many potential segments of users as possible. “Our Flickr program, which provides a platform through which Flickr photo lovers and sharers can earn money by licensing their images, is just one example of the different ways in which we are supporting and encouraging local contributors by providing an easy, seamless way of showcasing their images not just in Asia, but globally”, Glenn explained. Since 2011 Getty Images has more than doubled its office network and staff within Asia to shows its commitment to a region that is clearly an exciting place to be, as it becomes a growth engine of the world into the future.

Today's digital multi-channel media offers us indeed powerful and seemingly endless ways to create, communicate and connect. And while quick online access to images, footage and music may be second nature to us now, just a decade ago it was almost unimaginable.

We‘d like to thank Getty Images for doing a terrific job and Glenn Parker respectively for taking the time and sharing his insights with us and our readers.

By Daniela La Marca